The Worst Kind of Rejection -- Jen Doktorski

So, in preparation for writing this post, I was wandering around the house, half muttering to myself, What can I say about rejection? when my kid hears me pipes up, “You have a lot of experience with that, don’t you?”
Why yes, I do. Thank you for the reminder.
Rejection is part of life. For writers, actors, dancers, singers, artists of any kind really, rejection is part of the job.
After more than a decade of writing books and pursuing my dream of publishing, I’ve had experiences similar to those already discussed here by my fellow YAOTL authors this month. I’ve got a collection of emails and letters from agents and editors who rejected my work. But after initially knocking me down, those rejections ultimately propelled me forward. I grew more determined to find an agent, get a book deal, and publish my first book.
To me, there is a far worse brand of rejection in the publishing business.
When an agent or editor rejects your manuscript, they let you know privately, in an email or letter, without taking to social media to let the world know exactly how much they hated your craptastic book. It’s easier to accept that one editor or agent simply didn’t connect with your work on a particular day. That she or he made a subjective decision based on their tastes, needs, and perhaps caffeine consumption, and decided to pass on your book.
There are lots of gatekeepers to get by in order to have a book traditionally published, and perhaps that lulls you into a false sense of security. This must be good, you think. My critique group liked it, my agent liked it, my editor liked it, an editorial board liked it, the marketing team liked it, my parents liked it. What’s not to like?
Nothing quite prepares you for the scores of reviewers—both amateur and professional—poised at their keyboards ready to answer that silly rhetorical question.
So what? you might say. A review is still only one person’s opinion. Yes, but unlike the agent or editor who rejected your work quietly, the reviewer is not only telling the world they didn’t like your book, they’re trying to persuade others to reject it without ever reading it. “Don’t buy this one!” they may as well be saying when they call your book “Country hokum.” (True story.)
It’s difficult to see years of your life and pieces of your heart summed up in a few cruel words that some reviewer decided passed as clever. It’s discouraging to recognize that some reviews impact your sales.
I have a new YA novel coming out next week. Like many authors, I put everything I had into this book and I should be celebrating its release. But right now, my eyes are covered with my hands and I’m peeking at the world through the thin spaces between my fingers, afraid to read what people said about what I wrote.
Here are the details about my book in case you’re interested. On May 1st you’ll be able to buy it wherever books are sold.

One last summer to escape, to find herself, to figure out what comes next.
Graduation was supposed to be a relief. Except Quinn can't avoid the rumors that plagued her throughout high school or the barrage of well-intentioned questions about her college plans. How is she supposed to know what she wants to do for the next four years, let alone the rest of her life? And why does no one understand that it's hard for her to think about the future―or feel as if she even deserves one―when her best friend is dead?
Spending the summer with her aunt at the Jersey shore may just be the fresh start Quinn so desperately needs. And when she meets Malcolm, a musician with his own haunted past, she starts to believe in second chances. Can Quinn find love while finding herself?


  1. Ha!!! Our kids are always so helpful <3 Yes, those reviewers sting in a very different way and it's tough. And just for the record, my review of August and Everything After is TWO THUMBS UP!!!! Hang in there. <3

  2. Have some anti-rejection. I'm buying a copy of the book and am eager to read it.

    1. Thank you so much, Berek! That dose of anti-rejection is greatly appreciated. :)

    2. Me too! I need a good summery read, and you are always good for that :-) Also, we are Malcolm buddies, so I have to read this book. My LI in THE LAST SISTER is a Malcolm.

  3. Some of the best advice I've gotten: never read reviews. :-)

  4. You're so right, Mary! I try not to. I avoid Goodreads and Amazon, it's the trade publications I can't seem to ignore.

    1. With you on casual reader not liking the book is one thing. A professional feeling the same way is something else.

  5. I am so looking forward to reading this one, Jen! I love all of your books <3

  6. I'm with Mary on this -- I stay off the review sites ever since SEND was published with all its profanity, which I ADDED after some teen beta readers said it felt like a bubblegum after school special. I felt like I couldn't make anybody happy.

    The truth is, I can't make EVERYBODY happy.

  7. I'm loving AUGUST. I think it's your best work yet.


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